Grammar errors come in all shapes and flavors. Take the common phrase “I couldn’t care less”—or do you mistakenly say, “I could care less”?
The Facebook conversation below was sparked by my question about grammar pet peeves.
S. My favorite is “I could care less.”
Jenny Mertes It’s one of my favorites too, especially since someone very close to me (I’m not telling) says “I could care less” a lot. I have to just close my ears.
K. Okay, I’m trying to figure out what is wrong with “I could care less.” Is it in the semantics; as in, I care but I guess I could care less?
Jenny Mertes K., yes, if you could care less, that’s probably not what you’re trying to say. What you really mean is, I couldn’t care less than I already do.
R. Although there are times when, with just a bit of effort, I could actually care less. ;-)
K. Okay, Jenny and S., I have been thinking about the phrase “I could care less,” and I think I have it figured out. If you say, “I could care less,” you are really saying that you don’t care at all, right? A person can’t care less than not at all; therefore, that phrase doesn’t work. Oh man, I think figuring that out hurt my brain. ;-)
Jenny Mertes Actually K. it’s the opposite. If you could care less, you still care some. If you couldn’t care less, you don’t care at all. It’s really just a basic misunderstanding of the literal meaning that causes people to say “I could care less” instead of the correct “I couldn’t.”
Quick Tip: Remember the big red “N’T” that should be at the end of “COULD.”